Election for the next Stan Governing Body

Nominations are now open! Please see:

I second Breck that the board benefits from people with time to contribute to Stan, but I also hope it won’t keep anyone from nominating themselves (or encouraging someone else to self-nominate). Everyone on the current SGB agrees we want the next board to learn from us but also do what works for the new group of individuals. This could be 5/hours a week or it could be that the board meets in person to hash out some of the harder stuff, like governance structure, formalizing code of conduct and surrounding policies etc…


Thanks Lizzie, I agree!

And just to be clear to anyone reading this who might want to nominate themselves, there is no official hourly time commitment, just the commitment to the one year term.

Yeah, I think if the board can hash out some of the harder stuff like this at the beginning then it will hopefully result in a much lower time commitment after that, especially if the board can effectively leverage the Stan community and not put too much on the individual SGB members. Of course this will be up to the new board to decide!

I think it’s been a really interesting experience so far and I’d like to encourage lots of folks and especially users of Stan to nominate themselves - this is a great way to get pretty involved and requires no prior experience or credentials. I’d recommend setting aside an hour a week for the meetings most weeks and bringing a collaborative attitude, but those aren’t official requirements either, haha.


I just want to echo what @jonah, @lizzieinvancouver, and @seantalts have said. With good organization and structure amongst the governing body the time burden can reasonable and distributed to allow one to contribute when hours are available during the one’s week; I think that we’re all happy to offer advice based on our experience to help establish the new governing body establish a structure that works for them.

The main power of the governing body is to make decisions, and often the burden falls on the governing body to also propose exactly upon what is decided and exactly what the options are. Much of that work, however, can be delegated to the community, which not only reduces the burden on the governing body but also fosters engagement with the community.

There are many critical decisions to be made by the next governing body, including a project-wide code of conduct, electorate structure, governance structure, and technical working group structure. If you are at all interested in fostering the project through those transitions then I encourage you to consider nominating yourself, especially if you consider yourself an outsider within the community. There are more people using Stan to great effect but consider themselves outsiders than there are vocal insiders, and your experience will be critical to the development of the project.


Does the current SGB have a transition plan in mind? I think it would be nice to have either

  1. One member of the old board on the new (or preferably just running and letting people decide)

  2. Have the current SGB form into an advisory committee that the new SGB can utilize

I dont want to volun-tell anyone to do stuff but I think Jonah would be good at (1). Does anyone have thoughts?


I think we’d all make ourselves available to the new board without needing to be on it or part of an official committee :)

What thread should we use to ask questions of the candidates? I’d like to know how they’re going to solve stalled PRs, assuming that is the body we’re supposed to appeal to.

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It feels like ^ would be something more for the technical working group

re stalled PRs - the technical working group doesn’t exist.

either the next SGB will have to figure out how to create a good decision-making framework for good software development or the devs will have to sort it out amongst themselves.

I found two links, given below:

Does the TWG Director position still exist? The last appointment to the position is outlined earlier this year in thread 7780. Does the director still have the powers outlined in list item e) of the older thread 5693?

e) Technical Working Group (TWG) leader: Bob at this point. Override authority on any decisions made by anyone level d) and lower, override should be applied rarely. Cannot be a Technical leader for a domain. Can create, merge or remove domains. Answers to the SGB and can be overruled by SGB. Appointed by SGB.

@ChrisChiasson, thanks for bringing this up. There definitely should be a space to ask questions to the candidates. I am unsure if @jonah or anyone else has specific plans how this should go. If it is not planned, I can make it happen. It would probably be a separate thread and some timing considerations might be necessary (question answering makes the most sense when all the candidates are known, but before voting starts, however the nomination period is directly followed by voting period, so some tradeoff will have to be made).

I would kindly ask you to keep this thread directly election-related and discuss specifics (e.g. the state of the TWG position) as a new topic.

The SGB can influence basically any process withing the Stan project, if it chooses to do so. So asking about stalled PRs (or basically anything else) is IMHO not off-topic, but it might well be a wrong abstraction level. I guess SGB will more likely decide on the overall governance of development. But specific cases might be important to inform how the general procedure should be setup.

I understand that you are frustrated about the PR process and hope we can find a good solution going forward. I don’t want to silence the discussion about the issue, I just don’t want this thread to be derailed as I fear you concerns might not be adressed quickly. So feel free to move it elsewhere

Hope that makes sense!


I guess we don’t have a rule other than the nominations thread is just nominations, so as long as the nominations thread is kept with no discussion I’m ok with whatever you think is best (e.g. separate thread) for asking candidates questions.

Also I expect more nominations to be coming in the next few days (I’ve heard from people).

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And yeah the future of the TWG and such things will be handled by the next SGB. That doesn’t mean that the SGB members will themselves be the TWG members, but @ChrisChiasson’s question is still a fair question to ask of the candidates.

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Thanks Steve. I’m definitely open to this! I wanted to give new people a chance to nominate themselves first, but many people have also suggested to me that this would be helpful.


A thread for questions has been created: Questions for candidates for Stan Governing Body

I invite @ChrisChiasson and others to put their questions there.



Thanks Martin!

Note: this is me speaking for myself; I am not speaking on behalf of the SGB.

I am really glad to see people stepping up to be part of the next Stan Governing Body! I’m sure Stan will be in good hands and the SGB will lead the project in the right direction.

Hindsight is 20/20. I’ve been reflecting a lot on how the year has progressed. We were ambitious walking into this and relative to the goals we set out, we didn’t accomplish as much as we intented. That said, we learned a lot and I think based on the nominees so far, the next SGB will be able to avoid some of the difficulties the provisional SGB faced.

One of the main challenges is the transition from a Columbia-centric project to one that focuses on inclusion of both users and developers, no matter where they’re based or who they are. This project started at Columbia and it really wouldn’t have existed without @andrewgelman investing so much of his resources into the project. I can honestly say that he’s put in a lot of personal capital that he’ll never be recognized for. But for the provisional SGB, there was a tension between centering the project around Columbia versus focusing on making it open. Just looking at the nominees, I can already see this being less of an issue. With the transition to the new SGB, I’m looking forward to seeing the community growing.

Another challenge that we faced was governance (literally, the act of governing). Most people joining boards have the luxury of having established by-laws and rules to follow. Creating a governance structure is a bit of a different skill that involves setting of rules that enable certain actions and limit others. We struggled with generating a consistent set of rules that even our group could follow easily. To the next SGB: although the provisional SGB wasn’t able to generate a good set of rules that you could just work off of, hopefully you’re able to treat that as a freedom. Getting good rules in place is important, but it’s not the most important thing. If you can figure out how to accomplish what you want to do, generate rules that enable that.

On a positive note, there is some time commitment (as mentioned by other SGB members), but I don’t think it has to be as time-consuming as projected. It can be mitigated with a bit of communication and focus. Good luck! I’m happy to help wherever I can.


Hi, Daniel. Thanks for the kind words! Let me generalize your statement and say that Stan really would not exist in this form without many many many people investing so many of their resources in the project. I was just lucky enough to be in the right place at the right time so as to be able to steer resources toward the creation, development, and use of Stan. One anti-model I had in mind was Bugs, which was great and was influential and helped many users, but the Bugs project did not have the resources or structure to allow it to be improved. For Stan, it’s great to see all the community interest, and I appreciate the willingness of new people to volunteer their time and effort to the project.


Note: this is not a post from me personally, but rather a message I am posting on behalf of the current (provisional) Stan Governing Body.

We realized some information about the vote didn’t make it to the Helios. The approval voting via https://heliosvoting.org/ works as follows:

There are 6 candidates on the ballot for 5 spots. You can approve (vote for) as few or as many of the candidates as you want. The five candidates with the most total approvals are elected to the next SGB. This means you can vote for all 6 candidates if you approve of an SGB comprised of any subset of 5 of the 6 the candidates. To express specific preferences you can vote for fewer than 6 (or fewer than 5) with a minimum of 1. Not casting a vote equates to approving 0 candidates. To change a ballot you already submitted just submit a new ballot (only your most recent ballot is counted when the election ends).

A few other rules apply to handle unlikely outcomes:

  • To be voted into the SGB each candidate requires at least 5 approvals.

  • If there is a tie for the last spot, there will be a runoff election the following week with rank voting for those that were tied.

  • If there is a tie for the last spot(s) after the runoff, members that weren’t tied will become voted in and they will be responsible for figuring out a way to fill the SGB from those that are still tied for the last spot(s).

Reference: SGB minutes from 10/28

cc: @Stan_Development_Team